Do You Need a Kickstand on a Bike?

Imagine this scenario: You’re getting off your commuter bike that’s loaded down with groceries, and you don’t have a spare hand to lock it to a pole. What do you do if your bike doesn’t have a kickstand? How do you keep your bike upright?

The discussion over whether or not you need a kickstand is common in the cycling community. Most people who ride a mountain bike or road bike argue against it due to the extra weight, while commuters and those with touring bikes say that the convenience is worth the unnecessary weight.

The answer to whether or not you need a kickstand depends on the bike you ride. If you have a lightweight mountain or road bike, not only will a kickstand add weight that you don’t need, but it could also damage your frame. You may need a kickstand on a bike if you mostly ride for commuting or touring. If that’s you, we list some good bicycle kickstands in another post.

Bike with a kickstand that you do not always need
A bike with a kickstand might make for a good photo, but there’s no guarantee that it won’t fall over when you walk away.

Why Do Bikes Not Come With Kickstands?

If you’re hoping to get a new bike that comes with a trusty kickstand, you’re probably in for a disappointment. The majority of bikes these days don’t come with kickstands, and there are a few reasons why.

The first is consumer preference. Many serious cyclists don’t like kickstands, so they would just ask to have them removed anyway.

The second reason is saving time and money. Bike companies and manufacturers would have to make and install kickstands, a piece of equipment that some people don’t even like, which would increase expenses and slow down the production line.

Some bikes, such as commuter and kids’ bikes, still come with kickstands.

Why Do Expensive Bikes Not Have Kickstands?

High-end bikes in particular are less likely to have kickstands. One reason is prestige: the cyclists who are going to invest in an expensive bike are more likely to look down on kickstands. The other reason is that most expensive bikes have frames that could get damaged by kickstands.

Are Kickstands Bad for Bikes?

Depending on the bike, a kickstand could actually damage the frame. Lightweight carbon frames are easily scratched, and clamping on a heavy metal kickstand is one way to guarantee that the frame will get scratched up.

The other way a kickstand can damage a bike is if it falls over. Kickstands are not a guarantee that your bike will stay upright, and since they tend to be on the left side of the frame, their presence makes it more likely that the bike will tip over to the right and damage its derailleur as it falls.

When Do You Need a Kickstand?

Bike with red packs leaning against a tree instead of using a kickstand
When your bike is cluttered with bags or panniers, a kickstand may be more convenient than leaning the bike against something.

That doesn’t mean that kickstands are all bad. Casual travelers who make frequent stops and starts on their bikes, such as those who ride a commuter bike, can benefit from kickstands. If you’re stopping to run errands or to wait for a companion, you don’t have time to lock your bike every time.

Another situation where you need a kickstand is when your bike is weighed down by baggage. Whether you’re carrying groceries or your gear on touring bikes, heavy panniers make it hard to maneuver the bike close enough to a pole to lock it up. A kickstand helps your bike stay upright until you unload.

Can You Put a Kickstand on Any Bike?

Before you head down to your local bike shop to get a kickstand installed, make sure you have the right stand for your bike. Kickstands are not universal, and you need to match it by size.

Most standard kickstands won’t work on expensive bikes because the frame shape doesn’t leave enough space by the chain for a stand. You’re better off just leaning or laying your bike down instead.

Why Don’t Mountain Bikes Have Kickstands?

Most mountain bikes don’t have kickstands because mountain bikers find them to be a liability on the trail. Even when they’re folded up, kickstands can get caught in branches or leaves, potentially leading to an accident. A kickstand could also impale you if you fall off the bike, causing injury.

Can You Put a Kickstand on a Mountain Bike?

While you don’t need a kickstand on your mountain bike, you can always install one if you think you need it (the trail usually lacks posts to lock your bike up anyway). Just make sure that you’re getting the right sized kickstand for your bike and that you have enough clearance to avoid getting caught on the trail.

Why Don’t Road Bikes Have Kickstands?

Bikes leaning against a railing in the city instead of using kickstands
You won’t see a lot of people standing their bikes up with kickstands these days.

Most road bikes don’t have kickstands because that adds extra weight. Road cyclists are concerned about aerodynamics, and even a little extra weight will slow you down. Kickstands are surprisingly heavy, with some weighing over a pound, and they are bulky, adding wind resistance.

Can You Put a Kickstand on a Road Bike?

Even if you don’t mind the unnecessary weight, it’s probably not a good idea to install a kickstand on your road bike. Most high-end road bikes are made of lightweight carbon, which helps to lower the weight of the setup but is also easily damaged. You don’t want to scratch or bend your carbon frame with an unnecessary kickstand.

How Do You Stand a Bike Without a Kickstand?

If the consensus in the cycling community is that kickstands are unnecessary (and uncool), then how does everyone keep their bike upright?

Most people lean a bike against a pole or a bike rack to keep the bike stable. This is more secure anyway as you can lock your bike up to prevent theft, and your bike is less likely to fall (the wind can still blow your bike over if you’re only relying on a bicycle kickstand).

For storage in a garage, you can get another mechanism such as a hoist-and-lift, which suspends your bike when you’re not using it.

The Final Word on Kickstands

The vast majority of experienced cyclists who ride road or mountain bikes don’t have kickstands because of the additional weight and potential damage to the bike frame. However, if you’re just riding a bike for commuting or going on a tour with heavy packs, getting a standard kickstand at your local bike shop or from a bike mechanic could be helpful.